Computers may be one of the best technological advances of the last century but as great as they may be, they can on occasion make our lives a misery.
From running slow so that it takes an age to open up a simple word processing document right through to deciding it doesn’t want to turn on, one of the most troublesome and worrying problems that you can encounter is when you’re computer crashes and you lose everything.
That moment when you’re computer goes and you just know you’re not going to be able to get the document back – at least not immediately – is one of the worst you can have as a small business owner.
And it’s made even worse if you never backed up.
It’s a simple procedure that is taught from the beginning in computer user classes and contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t have to cost the earth.
Whether you use your computer once every few days to check your e-mails or are online 8 hours day interacting with your customers via your business’s social media accounts, it’s imperative that you back everything up to ensure you never lose any data and these 4 ways show you how you can do it for a variety of different budgets.
Get a USB stick
When they were first developed, USB sticks could cost you a small fortune, especially when you considered the amount of space you received for your money.
Although there are still expensive, high end USB sticks available to purchase, you can generally pick up a 4 gigabyte variety for the less than the cost of a round of beers.
Great for allowing you to backup a copy of an important document straight away or make a copy and move it to a different machine, USB sticks aren’t generally recommended for mass backups, as they are known to become somewhat unstable if used to store substantial amounts of data on on a regular basis.
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Use an external hard drive
So you’ve got yourself a USB stick full of backed up data and it gets full – what happens now?
Yes, you could just purchase another USB stick – but what do you do when that one gets full?
Carry on the same process and by the end of the year you could have yourself a drawer full of USB sticks.
If you’re someone who’s going to be backing up a lot of data regularly, instead of using a USB stick, it may be beneficial to invest in an external hard drive.
Allowing you to connect to any computer by a USB connection and backup any files in a matter of seconds, they are now available in often unfathomable capacities (there are versions out there – affordable versions – which can hold 1 Terabyte worth of data).
And with their sizes decreasing considerably in recent years, the external hard drive will slip into your bag unnoticed, meaning you can have all of your important, backed up data at your finger tips for whenever you need it.
Take advantage of e-mail storage
One of the most underused data storage methods, it’s not ideal for documents that are substantial in size or that are of a particularly confidential nature, but if you have a few standard documents that you need to back up regularly, you could do a lot worse than e-mailing them to yourself.
Years ago, this wouldn’t have been an option, as a lot of e-mail services put a cap on the amount of storage available for each account.
Take a look at many of the free services today, however and you can expect to find more than enough storage space for both your e-mails and your backed up documents (looking at Googlemail, as of 27 September 2010, each account is receiving 7,502 megabytes of storage).
When you backup your documents yourself, whether it’s via a dedicated backup system or a simple USB stick, there is always the risk that the system is going to fail and you’re going to lose your data.
In some instances, it may retrievable, but to ensure that you never have to go through the process of trying to recover any lost data, it’s advised that you consider a more secure option, most notably online backup systems.
Although they vary in price (somewhat considerably), the process is always the same – you upload your data to a remote server and can gain access to it at anytime, but it is very often protected against data loss or corruption, thanks to several regular backups being made of the server that you’re using.
No matter what size company you are, it’s always advised that you backup regularly. How you do it depends on your individual circumstances, but irrelevant of any affecting factor, it’s imperative that some type of data backup is carried out on a regular basis to ensure no data is lost – something which can have a substantially negative effect on any company.
This post was originally featured on September 28, 2010.